Ecommerce websites are arguably more complex than regular websites that are mainly comprised of a home page, an about page, a portfolio of services, and a contact information page. Aside from the usual components, they have category pages, individual product pages, shopping cart pages, thank you pages, and payment gateways, among many others.
On top of all of these, each page needs to be optimized for the web so that they may be found and displayed on the search engine results.
Business owners and website administrators also have to deal with the intense competition – the more established sites or the familiar brands. Even if your website has the best content in the form of text and images, it will be hard to rise above similar retailers especially when you belong to an extremely saturated niche.
When your developers and content people become too focused on generating sales, they sometimes tend to neglect the other factors and little nuances that they need to consider when on putting your products out there.
Here, we'll be enumerating the common content mistakes in ecommerce search engine optimization (SEO) and we'll provide examples on how they can be addressed.
1. Poorly optimized category pages
Some business owners think they don’t need to put much effort on their category pages. Think about it. When a potential customer visits your website, they don’t exactly know which product page to go to, so they’ll be relying on your top or side navigation to be directed to what they actually want to buy.
So how do you fix this? One actionable and easy to implement tactic involves categorizing your items correctly. You need to put the same products under the same category page. You can’t put things like “printers and projectors” under one category.
Your categories need to be distinct, because they need to target one keyword and its variations. Besides, no one will enter “printers and projectors” as a search query. They’ll either be searching for a printer or a projector, but probably never both at the same time.
If you don’t sort your products properly, your buyers would encounter difficulties in browsing specific items, so you also run the risk of losing customers who are browsing your site. Therefore, you should also treat categories as careful as how you’d treat your actual content.
Another practice that shouldn’t go unnoticed is the propensity of some webmasters to treat categories as mere listings of products or items on a store’s inventory. While there is some truth to this, you shouldn’t forget that Google and other search engines will still treat it as a web page where the same quality standards apply; and these standards will be high.
If website crawlers aren’t able to read valuable information or context from your page, they probably won’t list it in the results, and you won’t be visible anywhere on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
You should probably add a block of rich copy right below your category’s header and right before the products are displayed in the body of your page. Ideally, this will help search engines understand what this category page is all about.
Other site owners would even go the extra mile and add descriptive text below the product listing to accommodate related keywords and to make the page even more relevant.
2. Limiting categories to product type
People will always have different ways of searching for items on your site. You also need to consider that aside from searching for items by product type, they will also be looking for brands without knowing the actual product model or type. If you use branding on your categories, you can target keywords such as “compare JBL Bluetooth speakers” or “purchase RingCentral desk phones” and immediately direct customers to items under those names.
Customers will also be looking for products by price, because whether you like it or not, some purchase decisions are ultimately driven by price. This categorization especially works when you have a wide range of products with exponentially varying price points, such as items above $100 and items below $15.
Aside from the product type and the brand, people will be looking for items under a specific requirement or demographic. An example would be a women’s apparel site that features categories dedicated to plus size women, sleep wear, lingerie, or active wear. Another would be a diet delivery website that sorts its items for vegans, ketogenic dieters, gluten free eaters, and the like. Suffice to say, your website visitors should be easily able to view items under a category that will cater to their specific needs.
Figure out which brands you wish to highlight. Study your buyer personas. How much are they willing to pay? Do they have unique preferences that can eventually lead to a sale? Once you have these things figured out, it would be smart to meet with your team and carefully map out your categorization.
3. Targeting keywords that fail to match search intent
Most digital marketing professionals would look at high-volume keywords when targeting search terms. However, for ecommerce websites that usually sell very specialized products for a narrow market, high-volume keyword phrases might not always be the best way to go. This is why you need to focus on keywords that will accurately describe your product is and what you’re trying to do.
For instance, you sell fountain pen nibs on your website. While the phrase “fountain pen nib” seem like the most ideal choice for having 590 searches each month on the average, you might be forgetting that some of those searchers might only be looking for information on what a fountain pen nib is.
Transactional keywords such as “buy fountain pen nibs,” might do better because of the obvious search intent. The 10 searchers who use this phrase each month in their searches at least have the intent to purchase a nib right away. Action words such as “shop” or “buy” or “compare” can add more context to the keywords you’re trying to target.
4. Lifting product descriptions from the manufacturer’s site
Copying and pasting descriptions from a manufacturer or a supplier’s website is definitely a no-no. You don’t want those search engines to de-index your website and impose a duplicate content penalty. If you have a wide inventory, don’t spend your marketing money on content writers who will write thousands of product descriptions and specifications for your pages.
Instead, you should create unique content around a priority product or a flagship category – something you’ve been making money on or something you strongly feel like you can make money on. For the rest of the pages, you can tag them as “noindex, nofollow” in the meantime, so that search engines won’t be able to find them. As soon as you find the time to create valuable content around these non-priority pages, then you can gradually tag them to be re-indexed.
5. Stopping your efforts at product descriptions
Gone are the days when site owners would purely rely on keywords and search engines for their ecommerce efforts. These days, clients will instantly sense if you’re all marketing fluff; and you don’t want to turn them away with this. It is for this exact reason why need to support your optimized website content with engaging content that goes in and beyond your web domain.
The best way to start is through a company blog that is filled with content that your audience will find useful. Create posts that will feature tips or news about the items you sell. If you can go the extra mile by adding tutorials or reviews in the form of videos, then that would be excellent. You should also start actively engaging on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ll be surprised at how far these outlets will take you. It would be helpful to understand how better engagement can bring your online presence or visibility to greater heights.
Are you guilty of any of these ecommerce mistakes? If you are, then you should start acting on them now. Whether you own a site with thousands of products or a very niche-based brand with five or 10 items on your catalog, it’s important to focus on optimizing your website for both search engine bots and humans.
Klaris Chua is a digital content marketer who has written many pieces on startups and small business communications. She used to be a reporter for a business newspaper but the conventional path of a writer didn't appeal to her. You can connect with her on Twitter.